Soapbox

Another View: Pacific trade pact is terrible for U.S. workers

Protesters gather Feb. 4 outside the venue of the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Auckland, New Zealand.
Protesters gather Feb. 4 outside the venue of the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Auckland, New Zealand. The Associated Press

The notion that a flawed trade deal such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership would create jobs or chip away at widening income inequality is pure fantasy. West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon perpetuated it, leaving out pertinent facts about the deal’s impact (“Pacific trade pact means more jobs, higher wages for north state,” Viewpoints, Feb. 8).

Like every other recent trade pact, the TPP is chock-full of goodies for corporate special interests while woefully inadequate on labor and environmental safeguards. The chief problem that plagued deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement is that labor standards were weak or unenforceable, encouraging corporate CEOs to move their operations to countries that pay meager wages in comparison to U.S. wages. NAFTA led to 700,000 jobs shipped overseas.

The TPP is no different. In fact, the Peterson Institute report that Cabaldon cites finds that the trade deal wouldn’t be a job creator for America, but would lead to 121,000 fewer manufacturing jobs by 2030 and more service jobs. That’s a major red flag for anyone concerned about the future of our middle class.

Another recent study by the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University paints a much bleaker picture. It projects that the TPP will lead to GDP contraction in the United States and job losses and increased inequality in all participating countries. Experts say the deal could also undermine California’s efforts to combat climate change, result in higher prescription drug prices and allow rampant currency manipulation by other countries.

Due to the deal’s many flaws, leaders across the political spectrum are lining up against it. Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are opposed, as are leading Republican presidential candidates.

The legacy of America’s broken trade policy is shuttered factories, outsourced jobs and a widening gap between the wealthy and everyone else. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time for Congress to take a stand in support of working people instead of kowtowing to corporate lobbyists. For the sake of our future, Congress must reject the TPP.

Art Pulaski is executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation. He can be contacted at apulaski@calaborfed.org.

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